Invaders From Mars

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Tobe Hooper is deservedly recognized for making one of the most consequential, game changing titles in horror film history. Few horror movies, then or now, match the raw, urgent dread of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. But the well-earned primacy of that film obscures a career that grew notably diverse as it went on. Rather than a horror auteur known for revisiting styles, genres and a consistent worldview, Hooper’s films have attempted regularly to depart from what he’s done before. In so doing, Hooper’s filmography exhibits a remarkable and confident range of abilities and interests, from the mesmerizing slow burn nightmare of Funhouse to the Spielbergian blockbuster Poltergeist to the campy tribute to ‘50s sci-fi in his Invaders From Mars remake. After all, this is the guy whose only sequel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, took his most beloved property – a terrifying small-budget gorefest – and turned it into a bizarre slapstick comedy. So here is some free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from the director who taught us never to pick up a hitchhiker in Texas.



As a kid, I loved the original Invaders from Mars. To me, it was more akin to The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T than The Day the Earth Stood Still. An alien invasion seen through the experiences of a child meant an attack on the familiar, more personal, visceral level. Teachers, classmates, neighborhood cops and parents all fall prey to mind-controlling Martians, who drag their victims underground via a sand pit. The paranoia and frustration created by director, William Cameron Menzies, was only surpassed by the film’s strong, dramatic, dream-like design sense. So, when I discovered that Tobe Texas Chainsaw Massacre Hooper was directing the remake, I was skeptical. Now, before I get misinterpreted and receive hate talk-back and e-mails, I want to go on record as recognizing that Tobe has directed a few films that are outstanding and have withstood the test of time. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist, and, yes, even The Funhouse are very effective, however Invaders from Mars would bring with it, a set of unique challenges.


Aliens Queen

I was fortunate to meet and work with artists who, unlike me, had already began their nomadic careers moving from shop to shop like a herd of dinosaurs in search of water. I would either call or get a call from a fellow make-up artist and the gossip and rumors would begin. There was no Internet and no cell phones so the only way to hear about upcoming work was through word of mouth. In 1985, make-up effects was still on the rise, so there appeared to be a lot of projects happening around town. Of all of the opportunities, however, the best one was presented to me by Bill Sturgeon. For those unfamiliar with Bill, not only did he do incredible mechanisms on House and Strange Invaders for James Cummins, but he was also one of Rick Baker’s original six staff artists who had created the effects for An American Werewolf in London. Bill called me from Stan Winston Studios. In the wake of the success of The Teminator, Stan was re-teamed with director James Cameron on Aliens. However, a few months prior to this announcement, Stan had committed the studio to work on Tobe Hooper’s remake of Invaders From Mars, so now his team was taxed with two films that both required a large amount of work.

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published: 01.25.2015
published: 01.24.2015
published: 01.24.2015
published: 01.24.2015

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